May / June 1998 Issue
Rick Thum and Friends: "A Reason to Dance"
by Donna Eckberg
You get what’s promised here. Good old time tunes played with gusto for your listening and dancing pleasure. Rick Thum arranged this “jam session” leading the group on hammered dulcimer. Fellow band members were carefully chosen, each fitting the description: “plays well with others.” Included in the mix are clawhammer banjo-meister Dan Levenson, master flat picker Gary Hunt on guitar, that sly fox Mark Rennard wailing on fiddle and versatile rockabilly Vince Corkery on acoustic bass.
This is a good selection of traditional songs plus tunes authored by living purveyors of old-time music, Liner notes detail each song’s source, sometimes down to the inspiration itself. My favorite on this disc is an exhilarating ride with Rick hitting on all cylinders on Rock The Cradle Joe. Other traditionals include the dramatic Elzick’s Farewell, the controversial Forked Deer, a rambling Cherokee Shuffle and the lively Seneca Square Dance. Rick lists several alternative names for the latter including Shoot The Turkey Buzzard. Likewise, he points out that Stephen Foster’s Angelina Baker has been known by several variations on its name, and he includes a good rendition on this disc. The “newer” tunes (with an old-time feel) include two lovely waltzes composed by Thum, Steve Rosin’s ever-popular Nail That Catfish To the Tree, Chris Romain’s rollicking Black Widow Romp and Snake River Reel by our own Peter Lippencott. Surely this CD will give you a reason to dance.
The Orbits: "Crazy Beat"
by Donna Eckberg
Good things come to those who wait. The evidence is this first release by The Orbits which captures the essence of their live performances. Inspired by the Johnny Burnette Rock ‘N Roll Trio of the 1950’s, The Orbits are producing new songs in the rockabilly style. Most of the material on Crazy Beat was written by Thayne Bradford and Vince Corkery who caught the rockabilly bug circa l985. Drummer, Scott Hughes co-authored one of my favorites, Bye Bye Baby, starting with a danceable rumba beat which oscillates to swing and back. This tight band plays a good variety of dance tempos from blues and ballads to up-tempo swing and rockabilly.
Each of the band’s five members contributes top talent to the Orbits sound. Bradford’s vocals are mighty fine, especially on his ballad, Trouble On My Mind. He includes swinging fiddle and tears it up with Jon Ferber on guitar. They exhibit classic rockabilly chops with complementing lead and rhythm roles. Ferber also s(w)ings on Bradford’s suggestive double entendre, Bread and Butter Baby. You’ll hear Corkery’s slapping rhythms on acoustic bass. Hughes’ driving drum beat and Bob Briedenbach’s. swinging lap steel guitar. Bob provides country-fried vocals on three cuts including Corkery’s boppin’ Crazy Beat. Special guest Bernadette Randle contributes bluesy piano for a little laniappe on a few songs. That rockabilly howl sends you reeling on the high velocity, Alex The Star Man, Corkery and Bradford’s comic look at a UFO fanatic.
You’ll go into orbit when you hear these local rockabillies. Look for them at local clubs and their upcoming CD release party Saturday June 6 at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp, starting at 9 p.m. Check the Donna line and don’t forget your dancing shoes!